Ratoc CompactFlash USB 1.1 Host Card For PDAs
By Mark Raby
Though it's not exactly a fair fight, PDAs and PCs have always been compared to one another, and while most computers have a lot more going for them than their handheld opponents, there are many redeeming functions to PDAs that you won't find on a PC. In addition to portability and sheer ease of use, manufacturers of PDA accessories can get really inventive, since there's usually little to work with hardware-wise. The idea of using a regular CompactFlash card slot to add USB 1.1 functionality is a perfect example of this.
I've always lamented over the fact that my Pocket PC can't be expanded via USB with myriad cool and bizarre accessories that my desktop PC use. The CFU1U from Ratoc tackles that problem. It is a CF card that will work in virtually any Pocket PC with a CF Type II slot. There are other similar cards available, but this one is more widely compatible than most of its competitors, with support for all Pocket PC OS's dating back to PPC 2000. It also works with Windows Mobile 5.0 devices.
The device is fully certified with HP iPAQ and Dell Axim devices, but has also been tested on a handful of Toshiba, Fujitsu, and Casio handhelds, which Racto say will successfully work with the USB adapter.
You will need special drivers for some USB devices, but most of them are available to download and transfer through ActiveSync. A number of devices have been proven to work, such as digital cameras and flash drives. However, there are other, more esoteric USB gadgets that are reported to work without a hitch on the PDA, like barcode and magnetic card readers. I'm sure small business owners could really take advantage of those devices on their PDAs. So if the computers crash at a mom & pop grocery store, mom or pop could whip out a PDA and still tender the transactions.
The CFU1U CF USB host card will set you back about $130, but considering the slew of options it opens up for your PDA, it could be well worth the cost.